Relatives: Killing could have been avoided

Jul. 23, 2014 @ 01:33 PM

Among the frustrations felt by relatives of Bobby Dean Sparks is that the man he is accused of killing on June 24, Sammy William Sturgill, might have been in jail awaiting trial in a stabbing but had been released less than three months earlier for reasons that officials will not explain.

“I don’t think they should hold my daddy accountable,” said Shelia Hernandez, Sparks’ daughter. “They knew how Sammy was, and knew daddy didn’t want Sammy around.”

Sturgill, 48, was arrested March 9 and charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury. He was accused of stabbing a neighbor, Charles “T-Roy” Davidson, who was visiting Sturgill at his Conley Place house. Davidson, who maintains the attack was unprovoked, lost an eye in the attack, and both of his lungs were punctured.

Sturgill was being held in jail with bond set at $100,000, but when it came time March 31 for a probable cause hearing, where prosecutors would have to show the court enough evidence to justify going forward with the charge, police and prosecutors chose not to present any evidence, said Capt. Couby Stilwell of the Lenoir Police Department. The decision was to instead take evidence to a grand jury later to seek an indictment.

But declining to present evidence at that hearing meant that the charge against Sturgill had to be dropped.

Stilwell declined to explain why officials decided against presenting any evidence and to let Sturgill go free. The district attorney’s office could not be reached for comment.

Sturgill would be alive today, and Sparks would be free, if it weren’t for that decision, said Crystal Clark, who is engaged to Sparks’ half-brother, Billy Stewart, and who says she has known Sturgill and Sparks for years.

“Sammy got out of jail for stabbing ‘T-Roy,’ and Sammy tried to stab Bobby,” Clark said. “If they had kept Sammy in jail, he wouldn’t be dead and Bobby wouldn’t be charged.”

Although Sturgill and Sparks, 62, would often drink together, and police say Sturgill was seen coming and going from the house frequently in the two weeks prior to his death,

Hernandez said Sturgill pulled out a pocketknife during one of his visits.

“I told him to put the knife up. I was afraid there was going to be trouble,” she said. “I called the cops.”

Sturgill was arrested on a charge of second-degree trespassing June 3 after refusing to leave Sparks’ property on Bradford Street, Lenoir police said.

Hernandez and other relatives also believe Sturgill was upset with Sparks because Sparks had married Sturgill’s former girlfriend, Teresa Lynn Hall, 41, while Sturgill was in jail.

Teresa Lynn Hall Sparks called Sturgill the night that Sturgill was stabbed, and her attorney, Ted Cummings, said he thinks she called Sturgill to try to smooth things over. But she suffered a seizure shortly before 10 p.m. and was taken by ambulance to Caldwell Memorial Hospital. Sturgill remained at Sparks’ house. Shortly before 1 a.m.,  Sparks was asking neighbors to call police because he had killed Sturgill, who was found in a pool of blood on the ground outside the house.

Police found two knives from the scene, including a pocketknife.